4x4 AnswerMan: Off-Road Tech Questions Answered

Apr. 13, 2011 By Jaime Hernandez
Have a truck or SUV question for the 4x4 AnswerMan? Send your questions to editor@off-road.com. Please include your name and location, and be as detailed as possible about your questions.

Other 4x4 AnswerMan Columns:

March 2011

February 2011

January 2011


Hello 4x4 AnswerMan,
I found your details on the Internet and hope you can help me or put me on the right track. I attached photos of the bullbar I'm looking for but struggle to get to the right person to help me.
Thank you
South Africa

Hi Anne Marie,

Thanks for the pictures of your Hino 500. Looks like the front bumper took a hard blow. I can see why you would want to swap it out. 

I looked around, but most of the aftermarket bull-bars I found are made of stainless steel. There are a few companies in Australia that make mild-steel Bullbars. Hino also sells them for your 500 series, so try visiting the local Hino dealer for a catalog.

Itís also possible that the bull bar on your Hino was made custom for that truck. I would talk to a metal fabricator/welder to find out what it would take to fix this one or make a new one like it.

In any case, you have a very cool 4x4 truck. Itís amazing how durable Hino trucks are, and how well they perform off-road in the Dakar Rally.

Good luck with the bull bar.

Dakar HINO 500 Series a.k.a. ďLittle MonsterĒ (Photo Compliments of Hino).



4x4 AnswerMan,

My name is Shawn. I live in Canada. I own a 1996 blazer 4-door auto all stock I need to know if a set of 31/10.5 Hercules Trail Digger tires will fit?? 

Thank you.

Hi Shawn,

To be able and get 31-inch tires under your 1996 4-door Chevy Blazer you will need to get some lift. The S-10 Blazer, even in the 4x4 platform, doesnít have much room for anything bigger than the stock 245s.

Your least expensive option would be to get a 2-3 inch body lift and turn up torsion bars to get more clearance in the wheel well. Then you should have enough room for 31-inch tires.



4x4 AnswerMan,

My ultralow mileage 1977 Chevy K10, 104K transfer case started to clunk under hard acceleration, then under medium acceleration, so I put hubs on the DANA 44 and put the N/P 203. In 4 LOCK good so far on the street, Winter is here and I'll need my 4x4. Whatís wrong and how do I fix it?

Thanks for your help.


Hi Carol,

Itís hard to say if itís the transfer case. It could be your transmission. I had a Chevy Z71 with less than 50k miles and managed to break the flex plate. It would make a clucking noise when I accelerated. The transfer case was fine.

Make sure your fluid levels are good on the t-case and trans. It also wouldnít hurt to take it into your mechanics for a check-up.

Also, make sure youíre not running it on 4LO on pavement; it can cause binding and break axles or even the T-case. 4HI is okay under snow conditions.

Good luck!



4x4 AnswerMan,

I recently was injured and due to my condition I can no longer bend down to lock in my hubs. I was wondering if there is a system to help me lock into 4x4 without getting out of my 2004 F250.



Hi Steve,

Sorry to hear about your injury. On the bright side, Iím glad youíre still able to get enjoy your truck.

Some Ford Super Dutyís and Excursions came with an Automatic Hub Lock option. If yours has it, you could just have someone move the dial to Auto on the hub, and do all the controlling of 4x4 from the cab.

If your truck wasnít equipped with auto hubs, I believe you can swap your manual hub assembly for one of these. There is some wiring and plumbing involved since the Automatic Hubs are vacuum activated.

There are many guys that prefer the manual hubs, so if thatís what you have, someone might be willing to trade you. Just look around on our Ford forum, or any other Super Duty dedicated community forums and post up a trade.

Thatís really your only Ford option. If you donít want to deal all the modification work, you might consider looking at a Dodge Ram or Chevy Silverado. They eliminated locking hubs in the 1990s and have on-the-fly 4x4 that can all be done from the seat of your truck.

Good luck to you Steve, and please stay off-roading.



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a question I'm hoping you can help with. It regards the Old Man Emu suspension kit used a few years ago on your Rav-4 project. Did your kit come with front strut inserts?

I only got the 4-coil springs and rear shocks. Does it work with stock struts?

Iíd like to get a little more clearance as I'm utilizing the General AT2 225/16/75s and donít want a strut coil spring length issue. Itís the wifeís car....lol

This is our 2nd 1st gen RAV4, and I know what itís capable of off-road. Although obviously not too serious compared to what people do these days, it has gone places that have surprised a lot of people.

Any reply would be appreciated.

Thank you,

David Michael Evans

Hi David,

Iím glad you found the Trucklet RAV4 build on Off-Road.com. That is Justin Fortís pride and joy. As for the front struts, Old Man Emu does not make inserts. I checked with Old Man Emu. I also confirmed with both Justin Fort and Rocky Mountain Off-Road that sells the kit. You can use the factory front struts and they will work just fine with the taller OME front coil.

If you have high mileage on your RAV4 and think itís time to replace them, take a look at Monroe or Bilstein. They are also yellow if that makes a difference. The Monroe is a twin-tube, like the OME rear shock, and the Bilstein is a mono-tube.

Make sure to read the RAV4 Trucklet article below and the rest of the series of articles associated to get ideas for your RAV4.

Have Fun!

Rav4 Crawler: Old Man Emu Suspension Lift



Hi my name is Ray, I have a Ď07 GV and I want to know what would be an acceptable tire size that would fit my GV. I go surf-fishing and have beach driving permits but I feel my tires are too narrow. They are 195/65/17 and rims are 7" wide.  I would like to get wider tires, say like 245-235/65-60/17, but I've gone to several tire shops and they tell me that on these rims I can't put wider tires than the 195s.

If I chose to change the rims to say an 8-9", what would be the largest size and tire width I can go. I do want to keep as much meat on the sidewalls as possible as I "air down to 15 psi" when driving on the beach.



Hi Ray,

The best way to get the 245s on your Suzuki Grand Vitara would be to lift the suspension and get a wider wheel. You might even get away with using the factory wheels and wheel spacers.

Since you mentioned you want to have more meat on the sidewall, you might also consider going down to a 16-inch rim if you end up getting wider wheels. This will give you more options for tires with bigger sidewalls.

I recommend you give the guys at Calmini a call or shoot them an email. They specialize in Suzuki 4x4s and will have what you need. They can also tell you want works and what doesnít. Theyíve done it.



4x4 AnswerMan,

Can you make a recommendation for headers on a GMC 5.3 Z-71 Crew Cab 4x4? What differences could one expect in fuel mileage, torque, and/or horsepower with leaving the factory cats in place but with dual exhaust coming out of a Flowmaster muffler?
Hi Steve,

If you add headers, there might be a MPG increase; it all depends on your driving style. Even if you run the catalytic converter, you should notice a power gain and torque. JBA headers claims to have a gain of 28+ hp and 29+ lb-ft at the wheel.

Here are a few header companies that make them for your 5.3l LS motor:

Hooker Headers

Gibson Performance

JBA Headers



Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,
I have a 1997 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 with a Dana 44 front axle that is leaking on both the driver and passenger sides. How do I go about changing the axle seals inside the axle housing? I would be so grateful if you could help me out.


Crestview, FL

Hi Kyle,

To fix the axle seals, you will need to disassemble the front hub and brake assembly to get to the axle housing seals. Make sure you drain the diff oil before removing the seals.

You then will need to remove the seals with a punch or drift tool.

After theyíre out, you simply line the new seals with some diff oil and put them back in carefully. Some light taps on a wood block placed over the seal on the housing works good. You donít want to damage the seal.

If you plan on tackling this project or any others on your truck, I would recommend spending the $25 bucks on a repair manual. You can pick one up on Amazon.com or your local auto parts store.

Good Luck!



4x4 AnswerMan,

Iím looking to convert my drum brakes to disk brakes on a 1970 Ford Bronco that has a Dana 44 front and the original 9Ē rear, but donít want to spend an arm and a leg.  I was thinking of pulling the brakes off a salvage vehicle but was wondering how to find out what salvage vehicles I could pull them off of that would fit correctly.  Would you know by chance or is there anywhere on the Internet to look this up?

Hi John,

One of the best ways to get front dist brakes on your 1970 Ford Bronco is by getting a factory front differential off a 1976 -1977 Ford Bronco. They are not cheap, but they typically swap out with little to no modifications. The next best is doing a front disk conversion with a kit. These usually consist of some adapter plates, rotors and calipers. You can find them at Bronco Graveyard http://broncograveyard.com/

1966-1975 D30 & D44 Disk Brake Conversion

As for the rear 9-inch axle, the popular swap is the Ford Explorer rear disk set-up. This is also available from Bronco Graveyard. Currie Enterprises also has a rear disk brake kit you can check out http://currieenterprises.com/

Weíll be showing how to do both soon here on Off-Road.com. Make sure to follow our Project Trail Bronco build by joining our newsletter or fanning us on Facebook.

Project Trail Bronco - Intro



4x4 AnswerMan,

Will 17-inch wheels fit my Ď95 Toyota truck 4wd with no problems?


Hi Mick,

You can fit 17-inch wheels on your Toyota Tacoma as long as they are the correct offset and 6-lug wheel pattern. Some guys are putting on 2nd Gen. Tacoma wheels on their 1st Gen. Tacoma with no problem.

If you have one with aftermarket wheels, make sure you at least have a +15mm offset.

Make sure to check out our Tacoma Tune-Up article to get some ideas on wheels:

Toyota Tacoma Off-Road Tune-up Project



Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,

My name is Frank and I live just outside of Boston Mass. I drive a 2001 Ford F-250 Super Duty and itís time for new tires. Currently have 265/75/R16 and I want to fill the wheel wells a little better, considering 305/70/16. I donít have to lift the truck, do I?

Thanks very much.

Hi Frank,

Thatís a big truck for Boston, must be fun driving around town. You can easily get a 305/70R16 on your Ford Super Duty F-250 if itís a 4x4. That size is about 33-inches tall. If you do a leveling kit in the front, you can run 35s.

By the way, tell the guys at the Bell in Hand Tavern to save me a lager.




My name is Don Lee and I have an 88.5 Samurai. I live in southern Arizona at 3500-ft. elevation. My question/problem relates to my Weber carburetor I got from Redline. I replaced the Hitachi because it was old and tired and had too many gadgets for emissions control connected to it.

My problem is that every time I try to take a long, steep, rough incline the engine starts running rough, powers out and dies. I've done quite a bit of searching and haven't gotten any conclusive answers. Redline's FAQ says check/adjust fuel pump psi and the same for the float level. Other sites say the same but several people say the float bowl being vented to the air horn and splash out flooding the air vents causes the problem. This seems logical because you can physically see how it could happen yet so many people who run the same carb claim to have never had the problem. Some say the fix is to reverse the carb, some say to plug the vent with epoxy and re-vent the float bowl. My carb came with a hole drilled in the casting over the bowl that that leads to the vapor canister so extra venting has already been done.

My question is this mod necessary and if it is why hasn't Weber addressed the problem or Redline suggest it for extreme conditions and there is no mention of the Weber carb not performing properly with the stock fuel pump. It almost seems that getting everything to factory specs should be enough or is there some truth to the splash out theory.

There is so much misinformation in the off-road forums I don't know who to believe.

More info: Other than the carb and eliminating all emissions solenoids, switches, sensors and computer it is mechanically stock. The only vacuum line is now the distributor advance. 1300cc original engine. It idles fair; the choke works as designed and runs perfectly at highway speeds.

Any helpful information will be greatly appreciated. I've had this problem for some time and would like to eliminate it once and for all.


Hi Don,

The Weber carb is a great addition to any motor. Iíve met guys that run them on their Jeeps and Toyotas and just love them. One guy I met told me he rolled his Land Cruisers and it kept running upside down with the Weber, so there shouldnít be any issue with climbing hills.

Something you need to check the jetting and model. It needs to be a progressive 32/34mm or 32/36mm Weber for it to work correctly on your Suzuki Samurai. If itís a 36/36 or 38/38mm carburetor, this might be why youíre having issues at the low end.

In all honesty, get on the phone with Redline and have one of their techs help you out. It just needs to be dialed in. You say it works great on the highway, so youíre almost there.

As for the fuel pump, it doesnít hurt to check it. It should be between 2-7psi.  

Good Luck.



Hello 4x4 AnwerMan,

I have recently purchased a 1999 Chevy Tahoe with an 8" Superlift lift kit and Fox 2.0 Shocks w/ reservoirs on the front (regular Fox 2.0 rears). They are mounted so that the reservoirs and shocks are flush. The reservoirs are attached to the shock via a clamp style bracket that goes around the body of the shock and reservoir.  All four "canisters" are in a flat row behind the tire, which is a Toyo 35" M/T.  The problem is that with all the shock hardware mounted flat, the tires rub when I turn the wheel more that one full turn in the vehicle.  This particular Superlift Kit was designed to not increase axle length and the wheels are stock width apart. 

Basically, as I see it, I can either re-mount the reservoirs somewhere in the fender well, or possibly move the wheels out to create clearance (perhaps via wheel spacers).  I like the look with of the shocks and reservoirs right now, but they are pretty much useless, especially if I want to go off road (which I do).  I often have to make 2-point turns in parking lots, etc. I know that I would be jammed up if I were in a tight spot in the mountains.  I need the truck to be as functional as possible, while maintaining some style. 

I am not that knowledgeable on wheel spacers.  I don't really know how much clearance I would create if I put them on (partly because I don't know how much spacer width is useable/safe), nor if I went with them, are they off road-able. 

Any advice that you may have on this would be greatly appreciated. If I go too long like this, Iím sure I will break a shock or tear a reservoir off!



Hi Josh,

Iím glad you like your new Tahoe, but we do need to get that shock mounting location fixed. Without seeing a picture, my best recommendation would be to re-mount the reservoir somewhere else. Just make sure they are not in the way of any of the suspension components. You donít want them getting crushed or torn off when turning or when the suspension compresses.

As for a spacer, Iím not sure if this would fix it. Most shops wonít do a spacer bigger than ¼-inch because of liability. The studs on your wheels become shorter the more you push them out with spacers. Take it into a local 4x4 shop and find out if they can recommend a fix. 

The best option would be to get new wheels with an offset that pushes them out so they donít rub on your shock tower.

Have a truck or SUV question for the 4x4 AnswerMan? Send your questions to editor@off-road.com. Please include your name and location, and be as detailed as possible about your questions.

Other 4x4 AnswerMan Columns:

March 2011

February 2011

January 2011

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